Urgent action needed to halt worsening Kerry coastal erosion

The need for urgent action to tackle a worsening coastal erosion problem at one of Kerry’s most popular beaches was highlighted yesterday.

More than 100 acres have been washed away in the Rossbeigh sand dunes since the sea broke through over four years ago, creating an island at the tip of the Rossbeigh peninsula.

Due to a funding shortage, state agencies and Kerry County Council have been unable to carry out remedial works and the gap between the island and the tip of the peninsula is continuing to widen as the waves make further inroads.

Local councillor Michael Cahill said part of the dunes area was disappearing every week.

“There’s nothing to hold the sand,” he said. “Gaps are opening up and the waves are getting through much easier. It’s a most urgent situation.

“Despite being an island nation, coastal protection has been given very low priority in this country over the years. The problem has been ignored by successive governments.”

Kerry has 684km of coastline, 378km of which is officially described as “soft” and vulnerable to erosion.

However, the county council has only a paltry €25,000 allocation to deal with erosion this year. Also, the council said it was not prepared to spend any more money on erosion until it was reimbursed by government departments for money expended in recent years.

“Any decision in relation to further coastal works in the future will be dependant on prior central government grant funding being specifically committed in writing,” said council spokesman Padraig Corkery.

He said €1 million was still outstanding in relation to work to protect the Killarney/Dingle road at Inch in 2007. Work had also been completed to protect roads at Fenit and Slea Head.

“The Inch and Slea Head roads are on important tourist routes, in the Dingle Peninsula. The Fenit road is also strategically important as it is the route to a port and important for commerce and industry,” said Mr Corkery.

The priority is on protecting essential infrastructure, such as roads and piers. In recent years, about €10m was spent on dealing with erosion in Kerry.

Work in Rossbeigh alone would cost several million euro, according to engineers.

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